Keeping a Dog's Bathroom Area Clean
DOG QUESTION: I have two, two year old large sized neutered male dogs. Because their urine was killing so many spots of grass in our backyard, I installed a 6 foot wide X 30 foot long wire run for them to use as a bathroom area. Once they have done their business, I let them out into the rest of the yard to play and enjoy themselves. After a month, I started not only picking up their droppings to keep this wire run clean (which I had always been doing) but also taking the hose and washing the ground down, to keep it clean. So I know it is clean but then they started to refuse to go to the bathroom in it, holding it in forever until I let them out into the rest of the backyard. Why are they doing this to me? Both dogs were neutered at six weeks of age by the breeder if that makes any difference. The grass also all died so it is just dirt now.
ANSWER: We may not realize it and think dogs will go to the bathroom anywhere, anytime, but that is wrong. What happened here was simple. By hosing the run down, you were not so much cleaning it as washing their urine scent all over every square inch of it. So now they cannot pick a spot they think is perfect for them because the entire run smells the same. Every square inch of it. Worse, you mingled two INDIVIDUAL dog scents from their urine into one which neither dog recognizes anymore. For all they know, that run is now the territory of another male dog because of their scent being combined by the water into a strangers scent.
Being neutered at that young of age also tells me that they may never have developed an intact male dogs desire to place his scent over top of other male dogs.
Go back to just cleaning up their droppings, but stop hosing the run down. It may take up to a month, but they will resume thinking of the run as their own potty area and finding the perfect spot to go on.
When hosing down kennel runs with cement floors, the cement does not seem to hold the mixed scent the same as dirt does. Also most breeders use a disinfectant on the cement floors of their kennels which removes a lot of the smell. Sadly most kenneled dogs have no choice but to go right there in their kennel runs, no luck of holding it long enough to ever get out and do it elsewhere.